An instagram feed your kids can be proud of: tips for better kid photography

Here at snackdinner we aim to be judgment-free. We don't care if you breastfeed or bottlefeed, cry it out or co-sleep. We don't care if you haven't found time to shower in the last three days. We don't care if you post round-the-clock updates about junior's constipation. 

But we're sick of your baby photos. 

It's not the babies. They're adorable, even in overexposed, grainy, blurry shots. It's that, if we're looking at the baby pictures you're posting, we're looking to connect with you, to see who your kids are becoming. Closeups of smiling faces only tell part of that story. 

We've previously recommended Henry Carroll's excellent little primer, Read This if You Want to Take Great Photographs. Below you'll find three of Carroll's tips that can help you tell better stories about your kids.

Get low.

Carroll asserts that "good photographers are contortionists," and advises "photography yoga" to get the right shot. Your back is probably already sore from that tenth horsey ride, but to shoot great kid photography you needn't contort too much. You just need to get to the kids' eye level and see the world from their perspective. Shooting from under the coffee table or the side of the crib will yield totally different shots than when you're towering over your child.

Play. Getting low helps you see the world from kiddo's perspective. 

Play. Getting low helps you see the world from kiddo's perspective. 

Stand back.

As our kids' #1 fans, we tend to focus just on their perfect little faces and bodies. We might also be embarrassed to photograph the messes adjacent to the beautiful, recently-bathed-and-changed baby. Zooming out can help you capture less varnished images of home. Standing back and including the foreground is also a great way to capture milestones like cruising and walking, because you capture more movement and direction in your photo. 

Yes, you're excited that kiddo has learned to climb onto the ottoman. But if you step back you can capture all of the beautiful chaos surrounding that milestone. 

Yes, you're excited that kiddo has learned to climb onto the ottoman. But if you step back you can capture all of the beautiful chaos surrounding that milestone. 

Stepping back helps you stop hovering and capture kiddo's first solo climb in all its terrifying grandeur. 

Stepping back helps you stop hovering and capture kiddo's first solo climb in all its terrifying grandeur. 

Cut your phone in thirds.

Like nearly all other photography resources you'll read, Carroll's book reminds readers about the rule of thirds: "splitting your frame into three sections--either horizontally or vertically--and positioning your focal point in line with this imaginary grid." Google "the rule of thirds" and you'll find tons of great examples of this rule. Most camera phone software will allow you to add a 3x3 grid on your screen, which makes it easy to line up along a third without missing the moment. One of the benefits of taking pictures this way is that you can capture movement from one side of your photograph to another. It's also a great strategy for capturing a guilty child and whatever it is he's feeling guilty about.

"I didn't do it." The rule of thirds helps you capture kiddo's guilty gaze. 

"I didn't do it." The rule of thirds helps you capture kiddo's guilty gaze. 

You'll note that none of these photos are particularly "good": sometimes the lighting is yellow, sometimes the subject is blurry. That leads us to what is perhaps the most important rule of kid photography: don't let getting things "just right" get in the way of fun with your kids. Learning a few tips and employing them quickly can help you capture the moment without interrupting it. 

For more tips to one amateur from another, check out snackdinner's previous photography posts